John 14.1-31 – August 10, 2020

John 14:1–31

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” 

28 “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30 I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, 31 but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. 

“Come now; let us leave.”  (John 14.1-4, 28-31 , NIV)

“Comfort during many seasons of life. The promise that He fulfilled in us. His words, Our comfort.”

Thought Questions:

When you think about the troubles of this world, how does Jesus’ promise to prepare a place for us in heaven bring you peace?

What reasons do we have to be glad to Jesus returned to the Father before coming to bring us to him?

How does Jesus’ obedience to do what God has commanded him spur you to also do good and obey God?

Luke 6.36 – August 6, 2020

Luke 6:36

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  (Luke 6:36 , NIV)

“Because it shows that you should be kind even if someone is mean.”

Thought Questions:

How has God shown mercy to you and others you know?

Why is showing mercy to someone such a challenge, at times? Why do you think the world advocates more a system of getting back at one another than one that seeks mercy?

What are ways you can show mercy to others today?

John 11.25-26 – August 5, 2020

John 11:25–26

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  (John 11:25–26 , NIV)

Death may be the thing most of us fear most, yet in Jesus, those who believe do not die.

Thought Questions:

What does it mean for Jesus to be the resurrection and the life?

How does focusing our minds on the fact that Jesus is the resurrection (versus the resurrection being just some theological truth) change our perspective, or perhaps make our own resurrection more real?

What better news is there than those who believe will never die? How might really understanding this change our priorities as we live in this world?

Psalm 42.1-11 – August 4, 2020

Psalm 42:1–11

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng. 

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God. 

My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me. 

By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life. 

I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?” 

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

(Psalm 42:1–11 , NIV)

Psalm 42 is a great Psalm for these times when so many find their souls downcast and disturbed, when the world around us seems to have gone off the tracks.

Thought Questions:

Would you say that your “soul pants for God?” Why would you say this is or is not the case? How can you make it more the case?

One reason we might have to not long for God (or anyone, for that matter) are struggles or troubles in our life. How do you typically respond to troubles when they come your way? Is increased trust in God one of your “go to” reactions?

In what ways do you put your hope in God, both today and everyday?

Matthew 7.7-12 – August 3, 2020

Matthew 7:7–12

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
 (Matthew 7:7–12 , NIV)

Ask.

Seek.

Knock.

Thought Questions:

In what ways do we hear these instructions and think: surely it is not as easy as that? In what ways is it NOT as easy as that?

Think of the best gift you have ever received. Now, knowing those good gifts, how well do you understand that God gives even better gifts to his children? Why do we at times assume God is not a giver of good gifts, but someone who wants us to fail?

How do you want to be treated by others? How can you treat others in the same ways today?

1 John 3.18 – August 2, 2020

1 John 3:18

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.  (1 John 3:18 , NIV)

The singing group DC Talk once proclaimed love is a verb. Sounds like John would agree.

Thought Questions:

Why does loving with words or speech fall short of the goal of love?

Describe a time when you knew you were loved not because of what someone said, but because of what they did.

What are some specific actions you can undertake today that will show your love for others?

Mark 1.16-20 – August 1, 2020

Mark 1:16–20

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 

19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.  (Mark 1:16–20 , NIV)

 

How would you start the process of gathering people who would help spread your good news to the entire world? And how crazy would your request for them to follow you sound?

Thought Questions:

What sort of things would you need to hear in order to give up everything to follow someone, including Jesus?

Notice that the new followers of Jesus left everything “at once,” and “without delay.” Is this surprising to you? Why or why not? How do you think would you would have responded?

What questions were left unanswered (or even unasked) by Jesus when these disciples began to follow him? What should we understand by this lack of questions and answers?

Hebrews 11.1-40 – July 30, 2020

Hebrews 11:1-40

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;  they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.  (Hebrews 11.1-2, 32-40 , NIV)

“The whole chapter is good, but 32-35 reminds me that my faith in him can overcome anything.”

Thought Questions:

When you read the list of things these individuals did by faith, what is your reaction? How do these things compare to the things you do in your own life?

Do you think faith alone would be enough for you to accomplish some of these things listed? Why or why not?

How does knowing God had something in store for them that only came together with us increase your faith?

Colossians 1.15-20 – July 28, 2020

Colossians 1:15–20

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.  (Colossians 1:15–20 , NIV)

Being a Christian is not just about following a bunch of rules or attending services/classes when they are offered, it is about committing ourselves to Jesus, the head of the church, the supreme one.

Thought Questions:

What does it mean for Jesus to be the head of the body? How does this affect or perhaps even alter the way you look at “church?”

In a world that typically demands their rights and wants everything to be fair, how do we communicate the importance of the supremacy of Christ?

When you see Jesus, you see the fullness of God. In what ways has Jesus helped you understand God and his desire for you to live for him?

John 14.25-27 – July 25, 2020

John 14:25–27

“All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  (John 14:25–27 , NIV)

So what things in the world around you today cause you to think: What a great sense of peace we live in?

Thought Questions:

How does the Holy Spirit help us understand better God’s working in the world, regardless of how troublesome or peaceful that time may be?

In what ways has Christ brought you peace, even peace that flies in the face of what appears by most to be troublesome times?

Do you find it difficult or easy to trust Christ’s words to not be afraid? Why do you think this is the case?